Schliemann, Heinrich

Schliemann, Heinrich

biographical name


Schliemann, detail of an engraving by A. Weger, after a photograph.—Courtesy of the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Berlin

(born Jan. 6, 1822, Neubukow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin—died Dec. 26, 1890, Naples, Italy) German archaeologist and excavator of Troy, Mycenae, and Tiryns. As a boy he loved the Homeric poems, and he eventually learned ancient and modern Greek and many other languages. As a military contractor in the Crimean War he made a sufficient fortune to retire at 36 and devote himself to archaeology. In 1873, at Hisarlik, Tur., he discovered the remains of ancient Troy (verifying the historical event of the Trojan War) and a treasure of gold jewelry (“Priam's Treasure”), which he smuggled out of the country. Because the Ottoman government prevented his return, he began excavating Mycenae in Greece, where he found more invaluable remains and treasures. He and Wilhelm Dörpfeld (1853–1940) resumed work at Hisarlik in 1878, exposing the stratigraphy more clearly and advancing archaeological technique. In 1884 they excavated the great fortified site at Tiryns. Schliemann's excavations helped to lengthen considerably the perspective of history and to popularize archaeology. His contributions were genuine, though his written accounts contain many self-serving fabrications.

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